One Track Mind: The Both, “Milwaukee” from The Both (2014)

If you were wondering how the perennially circumspect Aimee Mann came to be in a band called the Both with riffy indie-rocker Ted Leo, look no further than the aptly titled “Milwaukee” from their forthcoming eponymous debut.

Seems the two connected in, yes, Milwaukee back in November of 2012, when Mann played that city’s Pabst Theater and Leo served as the opener. Leo found himself restless before the show, and out wandering the streets of a strange city — when he came upon the Riverwalk’s bronze bust of one Arthur Fonzeralli, super-cool 1970s TV star of the Milwaukee-based Happy Days.

Loving the kitchy surrealness of it, Leo texted Mann a photo of the Gerald Sawyer sculpture, and a friendship was born. By the next month, they had begun writing songs together. That creative process continued over the course of the year, until they had enough for a full-length album. It seems each pushed the other to new places, to new heights. And, along the way, they brought out something previously unheard in creating the Both.

“Milwaukee,” combining Leo’s flint with Mann’s whisper of melancholy, takes us back to that initial spark, even as it relays some of the subsequently difficulties of life on the road — including that show where, perhaps inevitably, the front row “was taking pictures of itself.” The Both is due on April 15, 2014, via SuperEgo.

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.